Complacency got women here, but authenticity can get us back to where we want to be
In the course of three weeks I took three flights and drove over 1,300 miles to talk to women in four states. I was hosted in eight homes, where I recorded six kitchen table conversation podcasts – we literally sat at their kitchen tables – and attended six events where women were trained in the art of relational organizing. There was a lot of coffee and charcuterie involved, although usually not at the same events.
I’m a born talker, and I love hearing people’s stories: Put me in a room with someone for 10 minutes and I’ll know where they’re from, how they met their spouse and maybe even a birth story or two.
But my trip was about more than small talk or superficial connections. It was about women, our experiences and how policies and proposals playing out across the country are affecting us and our families.
I did this tour to hear directly from women what is most important to them in the upcoming elections, what made them get involved now, why some of their friends still aren’t involved, and how we can overcome that.
Because we need to be.
Staying on the sidelines is not an option
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by what we see and hear in the media because that is how the extremists want us to feel. But as I sat in living rooms in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, I heard from women who are living the real-life effects of book bans, attacks on women’s health care choices and threats of political violence. They repeatedly told me not being involved is not an option – they know they need to do something NOW. Not only that, they are determined to bring as many people to the polls as they can.
My first stop was a lovely home on a cul-de-sac in Rochester Hills, Michigan. I knew I loved host Kathy when I complimented how clean her house was and she told me not to open any closed doors or go upstairs. She’s my people. As others were arriving for the event, we learned Kathy’s son’s school was in a lockdown situation for unknown reasons. Nevertheless, Kathy participated in our kitchen table conversation podcast recording where one of the other women said something that has stuck with me ever since: We got complacent.
As my tour continued, I attended events where women were trained in the art of relational organizing. These were legitimately fun, and it was a pleasure to meet so many women who have been involved for years but wanted to try a fresh approach. They sat alongside women who have never even discussed politics with their friends but know they need to now. Relational organizing is our approach, and it’s made for women.
Relational organizing is far more personal and targeted than door knocking. It is more effective to have a conversation with someone with whom you have rapport and trust than to speak with a stranger. Meaningful conversations where you can address someone’s concerns and fears to allay lingering doubts that robo texts and calls cannot address.